Secrets to Taking Great Professional Portraits
The old cliché still rings true: “you only have one chance to make a good first impression.” In today’s high-speed, social media-centric world, the amount of time you have to make that first impression count is limited, to put it gently. Few and far between are the days of handshakes and eye contact; enter the ever-more important professional portrait.
In its original intent, social media was much more about college students being social than it was about professionals being, well, professional. Today, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter provide businesses and their executives the opportunity to make connections where they may have never made connections before. However, those connections may be far less likely with the disheveled hair and seat belt across your chest in the mobile phone photo that you took of yourself last week.
Many factors play into capturing a great portrait (light, lens, setting, clothes, hair, skill to name a few). We wanted to know what people like you and me can do on our end of the deal to optimize our experience when working with a professional photographer.
We decided to ask an expert: Wayne Wallace of Wayne Wallace Photography in Las Vegas. Wayne has been passionate about photography since high school and after 20 years in graphic design, he chose to turn his passion into a career. Now, Wayne is an award winning, published photographer whose true love is artistic portraiture.
We are big fans of Wayne because he takes outstanding corporate photos again and again and again and is a true professional. We spoke with him to get the inside scoop on how YOU can take better photographs. We chose the best of the best info from our conversation for you to consider:
Pick the right photographer for you
Choosing the right photographer should involve some careful consideration: ask around for recommendations, look through portfolios, find other corporate headshots that you like, and don’t be afraid to meet and interview this person who you’re looking to hire. It’s important to find a professional who you can trust and feel comfortable with.
Remember: as a general rule, you’re likely to get what you pay for.
Know what you want
Just like any other exercise in branding, corporate portraits should be a well-thought out project. Keep the following in mind:
Has a brand standard already been set? Bring an example of other company photos so that your photographer can achieve the same look.
What tone are you trying to set with your photograph? Corporate? Serious? Approachable?
Who is your primary audience? Other professionals and businesses or consumers? Or both?
Give yourself time to relax
Photographers like Wayne understand that people who are not in front of the camera all the time are likely to get nervous about the whole process. The longer you have to relax, the better.
He recommends that you never schedule less than an hour for a session. This will give you time to get comfortable with the lights, the camera, and your photographer. One of his great tricks is to start you off in your least favorite outfit. Since you’re already likely to feel nervous and awkward, it’s best to save the best for last when you’re nice and relaxed.
Skin Care & Make-Up
Do yourself a favor and take the time to get ready for your shoot. Especially now, with all of the advancements made in digital photography, everything is that much more clear – blemishes, unwanted extra hairs, unkempt eyebrows, etc.
Makeup and Photoshop can hide many things but what they can’t hide will stand out that much more. Show up with a clean (and tidy) face and let your makeup artist do their work. “Women often come in thinking that they can do their own make up,” says Wayne. “This is not your normal daily makeup, makeup for photography is completely different.” This goes for all of you male professionals out there, too! Don’t worry, this is not about gussying you up, it’s about evening out your skin tones and minimizing imperfections. “When you look in the mirror, you’ll think it’s too much but when you see the end result, you’ll see the difference.”
Here are some great examples of makeup-done-right by Wayne’s in-house makeup artist: Mei Li of Mei Li Makeup in Las Vegas.
Take a long, hard look at your closet and take the following dos and don’ts into consideration:
- DO go with solid colors! Loud patterns can take away from the most important part of the photo: your face!
- DON’T wear spaghetti straps or any of those crazy crisscrossed wrap/blouse things. “They might look good when you’re standing up straight at a cocktail party but as you shift and twist during a shoot they can look awkward”
- DO choose shirts that have some visual interest around the collar and neckline.
- DO bring at least 3 – 5 outfit options. This will allow for more flexibility in choosing settings, backgrounds, and makeup
Invest in Options!
Wayne highly recommends taking a variety of images in different outfits and settings so that you can keep your image and your various social media presences fresh while maintaining a consistent tone and message.
Having the right photographer to capture the right image of you will be a tremendous asset to your business and to your efforts in social media. By utilizing some of these techniques, we hope you will be able to capture that image that will help you open doors and create relationships.